Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge

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The Challenge Blog

Spotlight: The National Whistleblower Center is tackling wildlife crime corruption

Prize Winner National Whistleblowers Center is fighting wildlife crime

Welcome to an installment of our Spotlight series, each highlighting one of our 16 Prize Winners working to combat wildlife crime around the globe. Find out about our Winners here, and check back in on Mondays for a new Spotlight post.

“This innovation will have a revolutionary impact on wildlife crime detection.” That is how National Whistleblower Center (NWC) Executive Director and whistleblower law expert Stephen Kohn introduces the NWC’s prizewinning initiative — the Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program. The program’s goal, says Kohn, is to “incentivize whistleblowers, including NGOs, to report wildlife crime around the world.” To achieve this goal, NWC created an online platform that facilitates the secure reporting of wildlife crime and helps whistleblowers access a free attorney referral service. The service connects whistleblowers with attorneys who can help maintain their confidentiality, prepare information for the appropriate authorities, and assess eligibility—and apply—for monetary rewards under U.S. wildlife protection laws.

Kohn says that many wildlife protection laws, including the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act, allow wildlife crime whistleblowers to qualify for monetary rewards if their information leads to successful enforcement actions. By educating the public about these laws and providing a confidential and accessible mechanism to report wildlife crime, the National Whistleblower Center is incentivizing whistleblowers to report the corruption that fuels illegal wildlife, fishing, and logging trades.

It is incredibly difficult for law enforcement to detect such illegal activity without the help of an insider. When implemented properly, whistleblower programs have had great success in uncovering otherwise undetectable crimes —including the detection of illegal dumping from ocean-going ships.

The Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program, one of the Challenge’s Grand Prize Winners, is already receiving game-changing reports of wildlife crime. “I’ve seen how these reward laws [applied in other sectors] have radically changed whistleblowing,” says Kohn, who has represented whistleblowers for more than 30 years. “Thousands of people are willing to step forward because of robust reward laws and whistleblower protections where in the old days, no one would.”

Find out about the Challenge’s talented Prize Winners and their game-changing innovations to fight wildlife crime here. All of our Prize Winners, including the National Whistleblower Center, are looking internationally for partners, organizations, individuals, and funding agencies that can help them scale their solutions. If you would like more information, get in touch at info@wildlifecrimetech.org.



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